ONTARIO RED DEFEATS SASKATCHEWAN TO CAPTURE FIFTH-CONSECUTIVE U18 GOLD
WINKLER, Man. – Sarah Campbell (Orleans, Ont.) recorded a goal and an assist, and Grace Nelles (St. Ann’s, Ont.) and Olivia Wallin (Oakville, Ont.) scored pivotal goals in the second period to lead Ontario Red to a 3-1 victory over Saskatchewan in the gold medal game Saturday at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
Ontario Red accomplished its mission of attaining a gold medal five-peat. It has won every iteration from 2013 onward, and has captured first place 12 of the 13 times the tournament has been held since 2001. The only tourney where Ontario Red didn’t nab the top spot on the podium was 2012 in Dawson Creek, B.C.
Kayle Osborne (Rideau Lakes, Ont.) attained the goaltending victory in the gold medal clash with a robust 17-save effort, while Saskatchewan’s masked woman Arden Kliewer (Saskatoon, Sask.) shone with 32 stops in defeat.
Neena Brick (Regina, Sask.) tallied the lone marker for Saskatchewan, which earned its first U18 nationals medal. Before the province’s storybook run to silver this week, its best showing on this stage was a fourth-place finish at the 2017 event in Quebec City, Que.
The opening 20 minutes, played in front of a vibrant crowd at Winkler Arena, belonged to Kliewer, who turned aside all 14 shots sent her way.
Her best save was a point-blank pad denial of a spinning forehand shot from Alyssa McLeod (Erinsville, Ont.) from the lip of the crease.
Osborne, who stopped four shots in the first, responded with her own heroics late in the frame, turning aside a dangerous tip from Tavia Terry (White City, Sask.) in the slot.
Ontario Red’s strong territorial advantage was finally rewarded as Nelles stabbed the puck past Kliewer at 4:27 of the second after receiving a deft pass from the right corner on a 2-on-1 from Kira Juodikis (Lasalle, Ont.).
Wallin generated the eventual game-winning goal with less than three minutes remaining in the stanza by deflecting in a point blast from Campbell past a screened Kliewer.
Brick ensured Ontario Red’s sprint to the gold medal would not be easy as she blistered a scorching shot over Osborne’s right shoulder at the 29-second mark of the third after being sprung by a stretch pass from Anna-Liese King (Regina, Sask.).
Saskatchewan applied its most steady pressure in the final frame, forcing Osborne to make eight saves. The girls from the prairie province came close to tying the game with about five minutes remaining in the contest as a snap shot from Chace Sperling (Theodore, Sask.) created a juicy rebound, but Brooklyn Anderson (Shellbrook, Sask.) just couldn’t quite reach the loose puck.
Campbell sent her team into celebration mode by volleying the puck into the empty net with just 13 seconds left on the clock.